"I'm so jazzed that all the pieces that I had in my brain for it are on board. It's pretty much all of my interests rolled into one night," says Maari Suorsa of her brainchild, new comedy show eXcess boXes. "It will be a true sketch and variety show with unexpected elements, giveaways, honest moments, and things that are just for pure spectacle."
The show will star an assemblage of Charleston's funniest ladies — Lindsay Collins, Camille Lowman, Kate Ritchie, Lily Stanton, Meredith Kidd, and Alexandra Bennett — along with one super-secret mystery guest. "I like all of these women a lot," says Suorsa. "They're all hilarious, and selfishly, I wanted to work with them. Not selfishly, I wanted to make them write stuff."
It's "the show comedians want to see," as Suorsa describes it, with outrageous sketches, choreographed dance numbers, audience participation, signature cocktails, and plenty of surprises, all wedged snuggly between brunch and karaoke at West Ashley's favorite dive, Tin Roof. The bar is even playing along by creating signature cocktails for the event like a possibly pumpkin-infused concoction appetizingly named "The Moist Ugg." Yummy.
- Camille Lowman
You may know Suorsa best from Nameless Numberhead, the sketch comedy duo she performs in with her husband, Henry Riggs. But she throttled back on new work this year following the arrival of the pair's first child. "I've kind of been in the baby cave for a year not really performing that much outside of Henry and I doing Nameless," she says. "I'm not really doing improv anymore, and I've just been keeping to myself and being mopey about it." With a little encouragement from Riggs, she decided it was time to get back into the scene.
"This is going to be different than anything Henry and I usually put together," she explains. "It's a rehearsed and choreographed show, so that's something I'm really excited about. I'm getting to put the director's hat on and make sure everything flows and doesn't seem choppy."
If you're scratching your head over the show's title, take another look. eXcess boXes. Get it? XX chromosomes? An all-female show? The semi-scandalous double entendre? And doesn't "excess boxes" sound a little like something you'd find in the "free stuff" section on Craigslist? If you're thinking that this means there will be free stuff at the show, well, then you'd be exactly right.
Suorsa reached out to local businesses — all of which are at least 50 percent woman-owned — to source "well-made, interesting items" to tie into the show. It's a cool concept. Not only do lucky audience members get to walk away with a freebie they'd actually want, but it gives exposure to some talented local businesses.
"I'm super excited that everyone embraced it so much and was on board with it. Especially the businesses I reached out to like, 'Hey, I'm straight-up going to shake you down for your things, because I think you're cool'," laughs Suorsa. "Everything is given away with good intentions. I didn't want anyone to think, 'Oh, I'm going to donate this thing, and they're going to be disrespectful with it.'"
And while the show is "from the gals," it's intended to be universally funny. "I don't want to make it come off like we're man hating, but every comedy show is dudes," says Suorsa. It's about time some badass lady comics united. But to the XYs out there, don't fear. This show is made for everyone.
- This is a universally funny comedy show, presented by “the gals”
"If we got a room full of women, I would not be disappointed, but I want it to be like a good date night option or something that anyone can go to. Although, spoiler alert — it's written by all of us, and we're going to write about our experiences," says Suorsa. "I have a hard time with Charleston in general and the way it views women and what it thinks we want and what it pushes on us. This was kind of a show to combat that. I do rip on the blow-dry bars, but who's not to say that, given the opportunity, hell yeah I'd get my hair blow dried!"
The show isn't pushing any agenda or ripping on women who spend their days at nail salons and Champagne bars. It's more of a declaration that Charleston's community is varied, that real people live here alongside the wealthy, and that maybe we don't need three blow-dry bars on the same street.
But, it's not meant to alienate anyone either. eXcess boXes is for the people. "I would love for you to show up in your Lilly Pulitzer and laugh your ass off," says Suorsa. "You can have a sense of humor and go about your business and be who you want to be."